The field trip to Rosie’s Bar and Grill is an annual tradition for students of Wilton Manors Elementary School.
A group of elementary school students couldn't have asked for a better field trip after a school board member took them to a gay bar. The images of the students enjoying themselves at the restaurant and posing for pictures beside the restaurant's sign are warming the hearts on the internet. Broward County School Board member Sarah Leonardi, who took the students of Wilton Manors Elementary School to Rosie's Bar & Grill during the day, said she was 'honored' to show them around and teach them about the LGBTQ community, reported Yahoo News. While few conservative voices criticized Leonardi, it's an annual tradition that educates the students on the community and one that they look forward to.
I was SO honored to be invited to chaperone @WiltonManorsES’s field trip to the incredible Rosie’s! The students and I had a fun walk over and learned a lot about our community! A huge thank you to @RosiesBnG for hosting this special field trip every year! pic.twitter.com/A3rpMbyUJP— School Board Member Sarah Leonardi (@bcpsleonardi) October 27, 2021
"I was SO honored to be invited to chaperone Wilton Manors Elementary's field trip to the incredible Rosie's!" posted Leonardi on Facebook, along with pictures of the students enjoying themselves. "The students and I had a fun walk over and learned a lot about our community! A huge thank you to Rosie's Bar and Grill for hosting this special field trip every year!" After much noise online, the Leonardi didn't back down and reiterated that it was the right decision. "I’m always proud to join classes for field trips and events, especially when our schools are connecting with the vibrant small businesses in my district,” she told Miami Herald. Many have since resorted to attacking Leonardi and her family members, even sending death threats and making bigoted comments. “These attacks have no place in our society,” she said.
According to their website, Rosie's Bar & Grill serves up "amazing food, refreshing drinks, and sassy fun." Rosie's Bar & Grill is a welcoming place and as per the pictures posted online, the Bar appeared to be open just for the students' visit during the daytime. "Whether you come for lunch or dinner, for Sunday Funday Brunch or for just a few drinks ... whether you are LBGTQ+ or an ally ... whether you are local or visiting ... whether you come with a group or venture out solo ... you will have a memorable experience with the most talented crew in South Florida," reads the bar's website. "See you soon!"
Many claimed that the menus at the bar have suggestive names that may not be appropriate for students including "Big Girl Burgers," "Ivana Hooker," "Rhoda Cowboy," "Georgia Bleu," "Hellena Bun," "Young Ranch Hand," and "Willy Cheesesteak." Later, the school district issued a statement clarifying that the students were not given the regular menu, but instead were given “a student-friendly paper menu that has three child-friendly choices.”
While many were outraged on behalf of the kids, Sarah Leonardi saw it as a teaching moment that helps understand the community better first-hand. Pushing transphobia and homophobia on account of 'protecting children' is certainly not a new outlet of the conservative movement. The conservatives had used it as a plank to limit gay and lesbian people’s rights in the 1970s in the wake of the Stonewall Uprising. Religious conservatives claimed that gay and lesbian rights were harmful to children, insisting at the time that same-sex sexuality was both immoral and a choice, according to a report in The Washington Post. They argued that children would 'succumb' to becoming homosexual if they were not taught early and often that homosexuality was dangerous and socially unacceptable. They claimed that gay adults served as role models for homosexuality. The campaign was also successful as the conservatives stoked fear in the public, leading to conservative voices being elected and with many pushing to restrict the rights of the gay community. One lawmaker's pitch to voters was this: “A friend tells me that if you speak French at home around young children, they grow up learning how to speak French … I think that same principle applies to young children who are raised by foster parents.”
A similar approach is being used to restrict the rights of the trans community now and it's also leading to violence against the community. Transgender individuals have been subjected to unprecedented levels of violence in the first half of 2021 as the attacks on trans rights are amped up across states, noted HRC.